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Full text of "NightRider"

47

warmth and light while the rain and darkness and wind
prevailed over the land outside.

After he finished talking, nobody signed. The men
gathered again about the stove, in which the fire was dying
now, to wait for the rain to stop so that they could go home
and go to bed. Mr. Munn ceased to urge them. He sensed
that it was useless. He was fighting in himself a conviction
of futility, a presentiment of despair. He told himself that
he was behaving like a child, that this was nothing, that he
only dreaded the long ride back to Morris Crossing through
the wet. He tried to fall into ordinary conversation with the
men, but his words were forced and came false to his own
ears. The men were not talking to each other much. Each
one seemed silently engrossed in the process of the life that
was hidden deeply within himself, that bore no relation to
anything beyond himself, not even, it seemed, to his own
feet set solidly on the plank floor or his own heavy hands
that hung inert by his sides. Occasionally one of the men
would say, " It ain't letting up none to speak of," and another
would agree. Or one would go to a window to try to peer
out, his own black shadow blotting out the reflection of the
lamp flames and the faint, silvery glint the water made
streaming down the pane.

By ten o'clock the rain had stopped. All the men went out
to the shed to get their horses. Most of them started directly
off, the hoofs of their horses making a slow, plopping sound
in the mud. But one of them asked Mr. Munn to hold his
tiorse while he went back inside to put the fire out and close
ip the schoolhouse. The others who had lingered said good-
light and rode away. Through the window Mr. Munn could
iee the man moving before the stove. He saw him bend
>ver one of the lamps and blow it out. Then the man ap-
)roached the other lamp and bent over it, his face sharp and
ntent as though in prayer. Suddenly the light was out, and
he window blank blackness, blacker than the night.

"The man locked the door and came to take the reins from
/Tr. Munn's hand. He mounted his horse, then drew along-